From the markings on the back it looks like an Adder or Viper (vipera berus) which is apparently the only venomous snake in the UK. Actually from reading they seem pretty harmless and people normally only get bitten while trying to catch or handle one (or possibly treading on one) and a bite is very rarely fatal.
They grow to around 60 or 75 cm, although this one if you stretched it out fully was not much more than a foot long (30cm), the brown colouring suggest it's a female. After our brief and close encounter she moved off into a peaceful spot at the top of a low cliff in the bright sunshine.
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